Tuesday, February 21, 2012


www.hindustantimes.com - For Shiva devotees across the capital, Monday started early. With a ritual bathing of Shivalingams and prayers, the devotees geared up for the festival of Maha Shivaratri. Unmarried women fasted on the occasion and prayed to Lord Shiva for a good husband. “It’s a ritual. On Maha Shivaratri, unmarried women observe fast from dawn to dusk and pray to Lord Shiva to give them a good spouse,” Shivani Khanna, 20, told IANS. “On Maha Shivaratri, offerings of milk, bhaang (hemp leaves) and Bel leaves are made at temples. I also prepared special sweets for the occasion,” said Nisha Verma, a housewife who had come early to pray at a south Delhi temple. “We pour water and a concoction of milk, rose water and honey on the Shivalingam while offering our prayers, four times during the day,” she added. Bathing of the Shivalingam and the different offerings are said to have their unique meanings.

“Smearing Sindoor and bathing the lingam with milk signifies sanitisation of the soul, offering of fruits represent a long life and fulfilment of desires while lighting of a lamp signifies achievement of knowledge,” Verma told IANS. People thronged temples across the city to offer prayers and pour milk on the Shivalingams. Maha Shivaratri, which is celebrated in honour of Lord Shiva, falls on the 13th or 14th day of the month of Phalgun (February-March). It is said that Maha Shivaratri is celebrated to commemorate the marriage of Lord Shiva and Parvati. Devotees also take out processions to celebrate this holy marriage. A symbolic marriage of Shiva and Parvati is carried out by the priests in the Shiva temples in the evening. “The festival is accorded much significance in the Hindu culture. While women and young girls observe a day-long fast, it is also believed that sincere worship of Lord Shiva on this day absolves one of all sins,” said Rajan Pandit, a BPO employee and an ardent Shiva devotee.

Maha Shivaratri is typically celebrated on the fourteenth day of the Hindu month of Phalguna, which usually falls between February and March.  The festival marks the marriage of Lord Shiva to Parvati. Hindu women offer prayers to Parvati on the festival to ask for marital bliss.  Hindu devotees pour milk over Shivling (a symbol of Lord Shiva) inside temples and it is said that Lord Shiva fulfils everyone's wishes during the celebration of this Maha Shivaratri festival.

Maha Shivaratri is celebrated sometime during February-March. It is believed that Parvati, the wife of Shiva, prayed, meditated and fasted on this day for the well being of Shiva and hoped to ward off any evils that may fall upon him. Though, both men and women celebrate Shivaratri, it is an especially auspicious day for women. Married women pray for the well being of their husbands and sons, while unmarried women pray for a husband like Shiva, who is considered to be the ideal husband. On Shivaratri, devotees awake at sunrise and bathe in holy water (like the Ganges River) and wear new clothes. On the day of the festival, people will fast and spend the day focused on Shiva, meditating and chanting "Om Namaha Shivaya." … It is customary to spend the entire night awake singing the praises of Lord Shiva.

Stephen Knapp (Śrīpad Nandanandana dasa) :
"Hindu Festivals"
"Maha Shivaratri"

No comments: